A mum saved her seriously ill son by donating one of her kidneys – after a transplant from another donor fell through when he got coronavirus.
Josh Houston, 25, was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2017- a disease that attacks the kidneys and limits their functions.
Fit and healthy Josh went from running up to 50 miles a week to not being able to exercise at all after he became ill.
His kidney function had dropped to just 33 per cent and he was placed on a rigorous diet which excluded salt and alcohol to slow the deterioration.
Last October Josh was in hospital with gout when he got a call to say a match was found from a deceased donor.
But he tested positive for covid while in hospital and surgeons had to call off the op, with the kidney being donated to someone else.
Railway engineer Josh has now been gifted a new lease of life from his hero mum Michelle Houston, 48, who stepped in to give him a kidney.
Mum-of-three Michelle, from Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, gave her son a kidney on December 17 last year after she was found to be a perfect match.
It was transplanted to Josh after a lengthy process which involved background checks and psychological examinations.
The pair are now both at home recovering well and Josh’s body is responding to his new kidney.
Josh, from Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, said: “I was first diagnosed in July 2017 after being unwell for a very long time.
“I went from running up to 50 miles per week to nothing.
“It’s been difficult adapting my whole life.
“I had to cook entirely from scratch to ensure I knew exactly what I was eating and could only have a ‘treat’ meal maybe once per month.
“I lost lots of weight as I wasn’t sure what I could eat, so I had to be mentally strong to get through.
“I really appreciate my mum and am so grateful that so far, the kidney has not rejected.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have had the support of my family and the NHS – from diagnosis to now, they have always gone above and beyond for me.”
Michelle, who works in finance, has an almost identical genetic makeup to Josh and has blood type ‘O’, meaning medics deemed her a perfect donor.
She was in hospital for two days following the op, while Josh was in for five.
Michelle said: “I went through lots of test and examinations to make sure I was completely healthy and mentally well.
“There were X-rays and MRI scans and we even had to provide medics with photographs of Josh and I over the years to prove that we were related.
“I also had to decide what would happen with the kidney if for whatever reason my operation occurred but Josh couldn’t accept it.
“I had options such as donating it to scientific research or to give it to someone else on the waiting list.
“Thankfully we are both recovering well and Josh is responding well.
“We feel very lucky that it seems to have worked and there haven’t been any rejection issues so far.
“Kidney transplants are usually much more successful when they come from a live donor.
“There is also a pool donation scheme and of course people can sign up to donate their organs once they pass away.
“It’s given Josh his life back.”
Even with the new organ giving him back some freedom, Josh still has to take precautions in the coming months.
Josh added: “Whilst I can almost eat anything I like again, I am on medication for the foreseeable.
“I take tablets at 11am and 11pm every day which is sometimes difficult when I am on nightshift.
“There is still the possibility that the kidney could reject, but I feel so lucky as I know others who haven’t been as fortunate as I to get a match like this.
“There is a big chance that I might need another kidney in the future, so I’d perhaps need to look at one of my siblings or a donor scheme.”
To find out more about the living donor scheme, visit organdonation.nhs.uk/become-a-living-donor or for more information about kidney research, visit kidneyresearchuk.org